The Atlanta Hawks enter Saturday evening’s Game 3 in a 2-0 hole against the Washington Wizards and, as a result, there is some unrest within the fan base. Yes, the Hawks extended their playoff streak to ten consecutive seasons, but it came in the form of an uninspiring campaign that featured a (brief) bout with the reality that falling short of the postseason was a legitimate possibility.
On the heels of that, Chris Vivlamore and Jeff Schultz of the AJC caught up Hawks owner Tony Ressler for an extended interview and, frankly, the entire thing is worth a read (as well as Schultz’s interpretation in column form) at your earliest convenience. Among the headline-making items, though, was the fact that it is Ressler, and not Mike Budenholzer, that owns final say on basketball decision-making and the owner couched that reality in these terms when asked:
“That’s not true. I make the final decision, with all due respect. Just so you know, Bud is incredibly inclusive. Wes’ view, (senior advisor and former general manager) Rick Sund’s view, (assistant general manager) Jeff Peterson’s view. I’m in the decision-making business in my other job. It’s what I do for a living. If you think Bud makes a final decision on everything that we do, you don’t understand the way the Atlanta Hawks are run.”
It is not uncommon for an NBA owner to sport this type of power since, well, they have the ultimate authority within the organization. With that said, Ressler also indicated in the piece that he is “frustrated as hell” and, according to Schultz, it was Ressler who should receive “credit” for both the signing of Dwight Howard and the decision to keep Paul Millsap midseason.
While that was certainly the centerpiece in terms of takeaways, Ressler also doubled down on the fact that there will be no shuffling of responsibility within the front office. That comes as less than surprising news given the stature of Budenholzer and the tenuous situation that would arise should the Hawks move in a direction that would remove any bit of power from his shoulders, but it is certainly noteworthy.
From a pure basketball standpoint, the pieces also get into the fact that there “will be no complete tear down” after this season and Ressler appears quite focused on continuing the playoff streak with higher returns. While rebuilding has been a topic of conversation both in this space and on my podcast, this will quiet any chatter regarding that notion, especially with the backdrop of the moves being approved at a final stage by the primary owner.
Again, the full context is quite important and I would encourage you to consume the interview in its entirety. What we do know, though, is that Tony Ressler is more involved than some (including myself) thought at the outset and the Hawks don’t seem to be at all interested in breaking down the roster before building it back up.
In other words and, well, this is my interpretation. Paul Millsap is about to get offered quite a bit of money to stick around. Stay tuned.